Friday, July 03, 2009

Saints Alive!

Today's big news has been the imminent beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. That doesn't mean that he's having a make over (beatification, not beautification), but rather has passed one step closer to being recognised as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. The news has been welcomed by Ruth Gledhill, Archbishop Cranmer, and others.

Ruth Gledhill has also happily included an in depth look at the stages to sainthood, just in case you're tempted to want to become a Saint.

Step 1: Die

Step 2: A cult is formed for the cause of sainthood.

Step 3: An investigation into the life of the candidate - if sufficiently holy, then the title Venerable is awarded.

Step 4: Have done miracles, either in your lifetime, or through your intercession, in which case, you'll be beatified.

Step 5: Perform a second miracle, and you'll be canonised as a Saint.

Step 6: Die as a martyr and you can skip the miracles bit.

So there you have it, the way to be a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. The question is, what's it all about? What's the point of it? You see, the Bible talks about saints, but the Bible is talking about something completely different.

So, just for comparison's sake, here's the in depth look at the stages to become a biblical saint:

Step 1: Trust in Jesus Christ.

Step 2: There is no step two. All believers are saints!

It's true. Paul writes to 'all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia' (2 Corinthians 1:1), 'to the saints who are in Ephesus' (Ephesians 1:1), 'to the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons' (Philippians 1:1), 'to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae' (Colossians 1:2), and to those 'called to be saints' in Rome (Romans 1:7) and Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:2). Paul isn't writing to dead people already in heaven - what would be the point? Rather, he is writing to Christians living in the world, who are very much alive. All believers are saints! All believers are already saints, without the proclamation of popes or councils.

As to the stuff about praying to (or even through) Cardinal Newman, well, what's that all about? There is only one mediator between God and men - the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:6). Why pray to someone else when the Lord is always ready to hear our prayer? Is it a sign of humility, not wanting to trouble the boss? Nonsense - God our Father delights to hear our prayers. Is it a sign that we don't think the Lord can help us, or that he would be unwilling unless someone on the inside helped us out? What a sign of unbelief in the Lord's gracious provision!

As the Thirty-Nine Articles states, '... and also invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.' (Article 22) There are no first class Christians and second class Christians. All believers are similarly sufficiently saved, and are all equally under no condemnation.

If you are a Christian, you are a saint, without any need of the pope's promulgation, nor anyone else. Take the word of God to heart, which declares you forgiven, sanctified, justified, and set apart as holy unto the Lord, as a saint, a child of God and an inheritor of his Kingdom.

- Saint Gary.

1 comment :

  1. Gary, this is the kind of teaching that the church needs to hear in today's decadent spiritual and theological climate.
    You are biblically correct - every true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is a true saint! No ifs or buts.

    Another myth that is being peddled within evangelical circles is the false notion that only those who 'work' for the Lord somewhere away from home and are paid or supported by others are really serving the Lord! How pathetic!
    The truth is that every true Christian in a servant of the Lord, regardless of his occupation. Christians simply cannot be part-time Christians, or servants of the Lord! If the only service that was beingt rendered to God was by those 'special' Christians, how impoverished God is! Thankfully, that is not the case at all.
    This emphasis must also be delivered to the decadent evangelical constituency; but watch out - they'll come and get you!
    Keep up the good work!